Sword-Catching Parrying Dagger
- Dated: 1600
- Culture: Italian
This unusual fencing dagger demonstrates the way in which the artistic qualities of a weapon could be influenced by the practical concerns of the swordsman. The Renaissance duel was usually fought with rapier and dagger. The rapier, as the main weapon of attack, was complemented by a parrying dagger held in the left hand, used primarily for defensive movements.
However, by 1600 fighting with the rapier alone was becoming the latest fashion. The opposing blade could still be parried or beaten away with the left hand. The free left also allowed the duellist to grab hold of his enemy’s swordblade, temporarily immobilising it to expose him to a lethal counter-thrust.
This distinctive fencing weapon is designed to provide the blade-grabbing ability of the free left hand, while retaining the dagger for defensive action. The arrow-like barbs allowed a sword blade to enter the ‘jaw’ of the dagger, but made it difficult to free it again. With his weapon ensnared, the enemy was exposed, if only for an instant.
The practical challenges of creating such a specialised weapon were considerable. The hardened and tempered steel blade had to be carefully cut with the series of dramatically barbed teeth, a laborious process. The spaces between the teeth have been elegantly filed with ornamental edges, while the base of the blade has been finely etched and gilt- an unusual feature, even for high-quality weapons. In this way, despite its very specific function as a fighting tool, the weapon’s artistic merit is evident.
Source & Copyright: The Wallace Collection
directed by quentin tarantino
throat to the stars; a collection of songs for the studies of ancient greek: for the sleepless nights, the epic heroes, the lovers of plato and followers of augustus; for the drinkers of whiskey and wine; for the initiates of dionysus and the pursuers of ancient frenzies; for languid days in a rowboat, for postcards from rome; for silencing the friend who could not hold his tongue.
it’s a very greek idea, and a very profound one. beauty is terror. whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before. and what could be more terrifying and beautiful, to souls like the greeks or our own, than to lose control completely? to throw off the chains of being for an instant, to shatter the accident of our mortal selves? euripides speaks of the maenads: head thrown back, throat to the stars, “more like deer than human being.”
i. greek song; rufus wainwright | ii. the role of the hero in antiquity; commander venus | iii. lakefront property; austronautalis | iv. the lost art of keeping a secret; queens of the stone age | v. a good idea at the time; ok go | vi. devil’s spoke; laura marling | vii. between the bars; elliot smith | viii. j’ai deuz amours; joséphine baker